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This is another in a series of interviews with campus QEP leaders – those staff, faculty and administrators across campus promoting the goals of EKU’s Quality Enhancement Plan. The current QEP, Read with Purpose, calls for Eastern to develop critical readers through the use of metacognitive strategies. Building on the past QEP, which focused on developing critical and creative thinkers, this effort represents the University’s commitment to institutional improvement, and provides a long-term focus for faculty and staff professional development and student learning.

This installment in the series features Dr. Steffen Wilson, professor of psychology:

Q: In what ways have you been involved with the EKU QEP, Read with Purpose?

A: I was initially asked to join the QEP Design Team because I was the co-chair of EKU Reads.  Unfortunately, the University could not sustain EKU Reads, but I stayed on with the QEP and became a member of the QEP Implementation Team after the completion of the QEP design. I also created and implemented a critical reading assessment for Psychology that has been used as an early example of a department-level assessment of critical reading.  

Q: In what ways is the QEP relevant to your discipline?

A: Psychology majors have many, many career and graduate training opportunities, so they are well-served by developing transferrable skills that can be used across a variety settings. Critical reading is an especially timely transferrable skill in the content-rich environment of our technology-centered world.  

Q: In what ways has QEP professional development impacted your teaching?

A: The workshops that I have attended have helped me broaden my understanding of what constitutes critical reading,and they have given me a set of critical reading activities for my courses. The workshops have also helped me to differentiate between our former QEP, critical thinking, and our current QEP of critical reading. 

Q: What impact is the QEP having on student learning in your discipline?

A: Psychology majors must read standard text books, but also a wide variety of other types of items, including journal articles, statistical output, spread sheets of data, mathematical formulas, and tables and graphs. Because of this wide variety of material, our majors will benefit from instruction on how to adjust their reading strategies for these different texts.

On a related note, Kevin Jones and I created a display of different types of texts that require critical reading for the QEP Launch. In addition to the items mentioned above, our display included maps, text messages, e-mails, websites, Apps, sports programs, recipes, etc. The response from students who stopped to talk to us was exciting! When asked if they ever had difficulty understanding at least one of the display items, everyone said yes! Students also indicated that they were looking forward to developing better critical reading skills. This really brought home to me the variety of critical reading skills that will be required of an educated person in the 21st century!

Q:  How does the QEP benefit the campus community?

A: The QEP unites the entire campus in a common goal, and it allows faculty from very different disciplines to come together to discuss a common topic. It also helps students to see the connections in skills developed across very different types of courses. I talked to my students about their critical thinking activities in their other classes when this was our QEP. I will do the same for critical reading to help facilitate these connections.

Q: How will you continue to promote critical reading in your courses, discipline, or across the University?

A: I am in charge of our Assurance of Learning Day activities this year in my department, and I am including some time to learn and talk about critical reading on this day. I asked my colleague, Dr. Sara Incera, to make a presentation to our faculty on different types of critical reading activities, as she has recently completed the Critical Reading PLC. After her presentation, we will spend some time in groups working on developing critical reading activities and assessments for our three general education courses. These course assignments will benefit students from across campus who take these courses as part of their general education.